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Sombre Christmas: Gatherings banned in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leoneans observed a sombre Christmas in their homes on Thursday, after the government banned traditionally boisterous holiday celebrations to prevent the spread of deadly Ebola in the worst-hit country.

world Updated: Dec 25, 2014 23:57 IST
Reuters
Sierra Leone,Christmas,Ebola

Sierra Leoneans observed a sombre Christmas in their homes on Thursday, after the government banned traditionally boisterous holiday celebrations to prevent the spread of deadly Ebola in the worst-hit country.

Small groups of Christians in formal attire were permitted to attend church services, but the family gatherings, beach parties, concerts and dancing that usually accompany the holiday were banned to help slow the deadly virus.

Police patrolled the capital’s twisting streets and manned temperature check points to watch for symptoms of the haemorrhagic fever. On the radio, musicians who would normally be performing at live concerts played Ebola awareness jingles.

“We want to avoid contact because of this deadly disease. It’s necessary but I am not really happy. Normally we have a lot of fun with family and friends, but we just have to stay home,” said Kadija Kargbo, a cleaner in the capital Freetown.

She planned to stay indoors and watch films with her children instead of celebrating at the beach this year. At a Red Cross treatment centre in the eastern city of Kenema, a small group of patients gathered around a cassette player listening to Christmas carols, said Jestina Boyle, a psychosocial assistant with the Red Cross. “Some are sitting and listening and those who are too weak can hear it from their beds,” said Boyle by telephone before doing her morning round to visit the sick.

First Published: Dec 25, 2014 23:56 IST